The WebM Project

last update : January 16, 2011
The WebM project is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.

The WebM launch is supported by Mozilla, Opera, Adobe, Google and more than forty other publishers, software and hardware vendors.

WebM defines the file container structure, video and audio formats. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 video codec and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis audio codec. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska container.

VP8 is a highly efficient video compression technology that was developed by On2 Technologies.

A detailed description about the WebM Project is available at the FAQ section of the website.

A first WebM encoder is available from Miro, another one from PolySoft Solutions.

Some specialists are not convinced that WebM will be a success, as stated by Devon Govett on his blog. Others, like Jason Garrett-Glaser, the current primary x264 developer and ffmpeg developer, even thinks that the performance of the V8 codec is lower than the heavenly patented H.264 codec and that there will be patent issues in the future, because V8 copied too much from H.264.

How to encode to WebM is the title of a contribution posted by Jan Ozer in the Streaming Media Magazine in january 2011.

ArcSoft WebCam Bundle

ArcSoft offers a Webcam Bundle with the WebCam Companion™ 3 and the Magic-i Visual Effects 2 software tools. This bundle was preinstalled with ArcSoft Connect on my Sony Vaio laptop.

ArcSoft WebCam Companion™ 3 offers a broad range of applications designed and optimized for a webcam with the following features :

  • Photo and Video Capturing
  • Smart Video Enhancement
  • Pose Detection
  • Masque your photos
  • Editing Snapshots
  • Album Managing
  • Intelligent Video Surveillance

ArcSoft Magic-i Visual Effects 2 is a smart and simple webcam application designed to enhance users’ video chat experience through frames, effects, and themes. Using “Video Plug-in” technology, Magic-i Visual Effects 2 launches automatically when you start a video chat with any of your favorite chat clients, so you can apply fun effects simply and easily. It’s also compatible with WebCam Companion.

ArcSoft Connect provides product management and helpful updates for ArcSoft applications, which enables a better user experience. ArcSoft Connect will be automatically launched while running ArcSoft products.

The tools work as expected. The buttons for desactivating the camera (private) or the microfone (mute) in the visual effects plugin are very small and it’s useful to check first these settings if the sound or video is not working.

Skype video calls

last update : October 6, 2011
In September 2010, Skype launched the version beta release and the stable version for Windows.

Version 5 comes with a free trial of group video calling, allowing to call up to four friends. After the beta test, this feature became paying. At least one person on the call needs now Skype Premium or a group video subscription from Skype Manager to use group video call (monthly subscription).

Skype offers free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls and free instant messaging. Calls to public fixed and mobile phones, Short Messages (SMS), voicemails and other value-added services are billed by Skype. Several payment options are available. Skype is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, mobile phones and some Television sets.

Skype offers an excellent support with user guides, troubleshooting guides, FAQ‘s, forums, knowledgebase, different blogs (Big Blog, Community blogs, Technology blog, Business Blog, International Blogs, Heartbeat) and a development site (Skype Garage).

A new software development kit (SkypeKit) that enables hardware and software makers to add Skype functionality to their devices and applications is available to a limited number of beta program developers. A public Skype API enables third-party applications to communicate with Skype. A hardware and software certification (skype certified) is provided by Skype.

The audio codec preferred for Skype-to-Skype calls is SILK (Super Wideband Audio Codec). Skype has contributed the SILK source code to the Internet Engineering Task Force working group.

For Business Skype offers Skype Connect and Skype Manager. Skype pays a special attention to sound and video quality.

A funny third-party application for Skype is Crazytalk.

Skype was founded in 2003. It’s based in Luxembourg, with offices in Europe, the US and Asia. It’s owned by an investor group led by Silver Lake and which includes eBay Inc, Joltid Limited and Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Andreessen Horowitz.

I updated my Skype version to in october 2011.

Thoughts on Flash by Steve Jobs : go to HTML5

Recently, Steve Jobs published his thoughts on Flash on the Apple website.

Steve Jobs explains why Apple does not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

  1. open standards : Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary
  2. full web : most videos are available in a modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads
  3. reliability, security and performance
  4. battery life
  5. touch : Flash was created for PCs and mice, not for mobile devices with touch interface
  6. Apple wants to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to the developers

Steve Jobs recommends to use the open standards HTML5, CSS and JavaScript for mobile devices.

One on the first to follow this idea is the developer of the JW video player, Jeroen Wijering. Even if he thinks that there is still a lot of work to be done before HTML5 reaches the maturity level that Flash has for delivering video content to the users, he released the beta version of the HTML5 JW player two weeks ago.

Recording, edit and embed WMV/ASF video streams

Last update : January 30, 2013
Several methods are available to record WMF/ASF video streams:

  • VLC Media Player : To record WMF video streams with VLC Media Player, use the following procedure – Select File->Open Network Stream – Select HTTP/HTTPS/FTP/MMS and paste the URL/Link – Select Stream/Save under Advanced Options and click on Settings – Select Outputs and Play locally and File – Select ASF as Encapsulationd Method – OK and VLC should start play and also capture the video to the file
  • VM Recorder : WM Recorder uses a unique Stream Capture Technology to give perfect bit-for-bit reproductions of the original video stream.
  • Net Transport download manager

A full list is available at the Videohelp website.

To cut the video streams, I use the Video Cutter V1.0 software. To embed the video streams in a webpage, I use the licensed version of the JW Player – Silverlight Player 1.1.

Uploading and hosting public and private videos

last update : october 2010

The following websites allow users to upload and host their videos for public or private views:

  • YouTube (Google) : up to 2 GB in size; up to 15 minutes in length; HD resolution
  • Google video : service has been discontinued
  • Picasa (Google) : up to 1 GB in size; recommended resolution: 640 x 480 pixels; recommended ratio: 4:3; recommended frame rate: 30 frames per second;  videos are converted into a flash format (.FLV) with Standard Quality (320 x 240 pixel) or High Quality (480 x 360 pixels) playback
  • flickr (Yahoo) : up to 150 MB in size; up to 90 seconds in length; HD resolution (720 horizontal lines of resolution in the video); free and pro
  • Vimeo : free and pro ($59.95 a year)
  • LongTail Video (bits on the run) : pro (price calculator)
  • PhotoBucket : up to 500 MB; up to 10 minutes

Video formats on YouTube

YouTube has three main formats as well as a “mobile” format.

The original format, now labeled “standard quality”, displays videos at a resolution of 320×240 pixels using the Sorenson Spark codec with mono MP3 audio.

“High quality” videos, introduced in March 2008, are shown at up to 864×480 pixels with stereo AAC sound.

In November 2008, HD support was added with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, encoded with the H.264 video codec and the audio AAC stereo codec. At the same time, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9.

In July 2009, YouTube announced that YouTube users can now upload 3D videos. The videos can be watched in the normal way, and glasses are worn by the viewer to achieve the 3D effect.

YouTube accepts videos uploaded in most formats, including .WMV, .AVI, .MKV, .MOV, MPEG, .MP4, DivX, .FLV, and .OGG. It also supports 3GP, allowing videos to be uploaded directly from a mobile phone.

More informations are available on Wikipedia and on YouTube.

Recording and processing Flash (flv) videos

Last update : January 30, 2013

Today this contribution has only a historical value.

After YouTube and Google, new players like Metacafe,, Revver, Yahoo Videos and so on have entered the online video sharing space. Today millions of video clips, technology shows, music albums, movie trailers and private films are available on these video sites for online viewing or they can also be downloaded to your hard drive for offline viewing.

The downloaded video files are generally in FLV format (Flash Video) which is an Adobe standard for video compression. It has fast becoming the web standard for delivering online video (replacing Apple QuickTime, AVI, Windows Media and Real rm formats) because Flash Video can be viewed inside Macromedia Flash Players which are shipped by default with most web browsers.

To download Flash Videos, the following approaches are possible:

To record Flash Videos, the following tools are available :

To play Flash Videos on the desktop, use the following players :

To split Flash Videos, use this tool :

To convert and edit Flash Videos, different file conversion programs are available :

  • SUPER from eRightSoft
  • An free online conversion tool (beta) to PC, iPod and PSP is offered by

To encode and publish :

To captionate Flash Videos, the tools available are :

To extract image frames from FLV Videos :

To embed Flash videos in a webpage :

To play Youtube Videos in a webpage :

  • use the Youtube code (an embedded YouTube watermark logo is displayed in the right bottom corner of the player)
  • Mediaplayer by Jeroen Wijering (LongTail Video) ; an embedded YouTube watermark logo is displayed if the standard URL is used to respect the terms of service (TOS) of YouTube.  The watermark logo is not shown if  the mp4 url  format is used to play the YouTube videos.

To extract audio data from Flash videos :

Links to tutorials about Flash video processing are given below :

YouTube APIs and Tools

Last update : January 30, 2013
The YouTube APIs and Tools let you bring the YouTube experience to your webpage, application, or device. The Data API lets you perform most of the operations a normal YouTube user can on the YouTube website. The Player APIs let you control the YouTube player using JavaScript or ActionScript. There is not only the wellknown standard basic embedded player, but also a chromeless player that lets you create your own player controls. Widgets and a custom player help you to embed YouTube videos on your webpage, even if you are not a web programmer.

Go to the following link at Leslie’s Artgallery to see an example of the customized embedded YouTube Player.